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Total War Arena: Garbad Reviews Massinissa’s Guard

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A massive thanks to Garbad, as per usual writing us a very unique and honest review just for The Daily Bounce readers. This time he gives us his opinion and reviews a Tier VIII Roman Cavalry Premium unit: Massinissa’s Guard. Hope you enjoy it!


This weekend introduced a new tier 8 premium unit – Massinissa’s Guard roman cavalry.  These hard-hitting lancers promise good speed and good toughness, with no obvious weaknesses.  Is this unit the next Myrmidon?  Let’s take a look.

Note:  This is only written from the perspective of Scipio because my sulla is only level 5.


  • Excellent charge impact and damage
  • Decent melee attack, lowish damage per hit

Massinissa’s cavalry feature a high impact charge with absolutely crushing alpha.  Although Scipio does not give any increase to charge impact, 295 base is the second-highest impact in the tier and more than enough to land crushing charges against any target.  This is further amplified by the Numidian Advance skill, which adds 10% to charge damage.

Before charging against an unsuspecting enemy…

In melee, you have a pretty good initial burst thanks to warcry and mount kick, this quickly peters out.  With such mediocre attack its hard to do significant damage over time.

And after! Complete, 100% annihilation with no melee.


  • Outstanding melee defence (80+28+8 +70% from oath!)
  • Good armour
  • Good missile block

Massinissa’s cavalry has amazingly high melee defence – so high that when oath is active weaklings (such as lower tier cavalry or spears) often can’t hurt you at all.  This was particularly valuable in Cav vs. Cav, where I often lost the charge war yet dominated my opponent in melee.  The only target to watch out for is Arminius in a sword cav (tier 7/8) who could inflict heavy casualties on you but would suffer severe casualties in turn.

Armour and block are likewise good, but not quite bulletproof.  I took 10-25ish from most missile units (~5% damage per unit in a typical clean hit).  Against melee units, the armour is solid enough against any spear unit but as with any cavalry will haemorrhage against spears or pikes.


  • Unformed movement, which often allows for easier extraction
  • Excellent base speed, agility, and turning
  • Somewhat inferior vision

At first glance, Massinissa’s cavalry looks very fast.  In actual game its much more average.  Due in large part to Scipio’s lack of speed/agility skills, I felt like I had adequate speed to move around and extract from melee, but chasing down a smart, agile missile player was not easy.

OPness & Fun Factor

Another clean charge against a full health unit of slingers.

Compared to fully upgraded tech tree roman cav (who are sword cav), you have slightly better speed and agility (8.0 vs 7.6, 209 vs 189) and equivalent armour/melee defence, but significantly superior charge in exchange for worse melee.  This is the natural difference between a spear unit and a sword unit, and despite the whining of poors, is not pay to win.

A punishing hit, with lots of overlap to kill morale when they stand back up.

Likewise, despite a fantastic base speed on paper, actual gameplay shows that this unit is not even close to an equivalent barbarian or Numidian horse.  The advantage they get in consumables, gear, and skill means they will almost always have a 20-50% speed advantage on you.

This also makes you far less effective at hunting missile units than you might think.  While I certainly won’t turn down a free charge at a missile unit, I learned my role was that of a lancer, not a skirmisher/missile hunter.  I looked for chances to dominate other cav and land thundering hits on the back of infantry, and in that role, Massinissa’s cavalry works brilliantly.

Compared to greek lancers, Massinissa’s cavalry has better speed, is much tougher in melee, and has a shield.  However, it will lose a charge vs. charge.  I found Massinissa to be much more flexible than a typical greek.  Compared to Numidian lancers, you have very similar charge (its a toss up) and lack a missile, but have far more armour.  Massinissa is clearly superior.  Compared to a Roman sword, you have equivalent toughness and speed, but a superior charge which I find to be more useful in most situations, but this may be personal preference.  Compared to barbarian cavalry, you are much less effective at hunting missile units but are can easily dominate them in a charge/melee and are much more dangerous to enemy infantry.

On the whole, that is a powerful and flexible blend of strengths.


At first glance this unit looks to be a roman dream – barbarian speed combined with roman toughness.  In actual gameplay, the speed is much closer to average.  This leaves a very powerful medium lancer – enough speed/protection to get in and out, a fast cooldown on Wrath of Mars, and very high damage.  It will naturally get a lot of comparison to barbarian cavalry, but I find its role is more like a much tougher Alexander than a missile hunter.  Still, it has enough speed, toughness, and power to fill a wide variety of roles and that makes this unit a winner.

Rating:  9/10

Note that I grade on a very strict curve, so most units will get a 5/10.  This is the highest score I have given to any unit in TWA.

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